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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:03 pm 
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Fine for fatal ferry alterations

16-09-2013
The ferry company operating the Sea Smooth, the vessel involved in the fatal collision off Lamma Island on National Day last year, has been fined HK$5,000 for altering it without approval.

The Islands Ferry Company pleaded guilty in Eastern Court to installing two bouyancy tanks on the Sea Smooth without seeking approval from the Marine Department. However, the magistrate noted that there was no evidence to suggest that the alteration had any bearing on the fatal accident, or had undermined the safety of the vessel.

Another boat, belonging to Hongkong Electric, sank following the collision, with the loss of 39 lives.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:47 pm 
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They should be fined 5,000,000 for reckless operation, failing to maintain an adequate lookout, and failure to take action in time to avoid a collision, that resulted in a substantial loss of life. The HK elec boat should get half the fine for the same thing.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:02 pm 
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Compensation sought for ferry disaster
18-09-2013
Relatives of some victims of last year's National Day ferry disaster off Lamma Island plan to sue for compensation.

Families already granted legal aid intend to file a writ towards the end of the year. They will seek to show that the Marine Department, Hong Kong Electric, Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry, and the manufacturer of the Lamma IV -- the ferry that sank in the collision -- share responsibility for the accident.

The president of the International Professional Insurance Consulting Association, Paul Law, says the litigants may receive as much as HK$100 million in compensation, both because of the high number of victims and because many of the deceased were workers with considerable earning power.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:29 pm 
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On HK Electric website:


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:10 pm 
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Alan wrote:
The ferry company operating the Sea Smooth, the vessel involved in the fatal collision off Lamma Island on National Day last year, has been fined HK$5,000 for altering it without approval.
Is that the final verdict on the case? No mention of misconduct? It seems unrelated to the accident.

Maybe I missed something...

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:41 pm 
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Recent documentary on the subject: "The sinking of Lamma IV": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7rBo6b42Jc

Looking at the damage sustained by the Lamma IV, I don't think the water-tight door would have made much difference. But properly fixed seats would have, for example. $900 and $5.000 in penalty fees - that's less than what you get for smoking a cigarette in Kowloon park and dumping the butt on the street. Smoking & littering: $5.000 + $3.500 = $8.500, nah... I rather let a fatal collision happen.

The government report is here:

Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Collision of Vessels near Lamma Island on 1 October 2012
http://www.gov.hk/en/theme/coi-lamma/pd ... port_e.pdf
If you enjoy Lamma's amazing FTL internet connection powered by PCCW, like I do, then it may take a while to download. But you get a lot of pages (500) for your time.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:54 pm 
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lammanaut wrote:
$900 and $5.000 in penalty fees - that's less than what you get for smoking a cigarette in Kowloon park and dumping the butt on the street. Smoking & littering: $5.000 + $3.500 = $8.500, nah... I rather let a fatal collision happen.


The fines were for minor offences that came to light during the investigation, but not considered contributory to the accident.

The problem was the collision, due to the actions of the captains.
A small vessel being rammed by larger one at high speed is screwed, no matter what.

There are big civil cases in the works.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:04 pm 
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I'm halfway through the report and it seems the captain of the Sea Smooth is to be blamed, with others sharing minor responsibilities for the collision. Without his turning to the wrong side, against regulations and into the Lamma IV, there would have been no collision, just a close quarters pass-by.

Regarding the water-tight door, it seems I was quite wrong thinking that it didn't make a difference. The presence of it would have prevented the Lamma IV from sinking. It's absence should have been noted during years of inspections by officers of the Marine Department.

Properly fixed seats would have prevented many injuries and enabled the rescue workers to save more people. Death of at least some children could have been prevented if children would have donned life-jackets throughout the journey, as regulation demanded. But there were no children life-jackets on the Lamma IV and the regulations were unknown to the crew.

The collision could have been prevented by posting lookouts and using the radar. Training the crew in the functionality of the recently upgraded radar system would have made that easier.


I always thought there would be an anti-collision warning system in place with any radar equipment because it is so low-tech. Bigger vessels have it, airplanes have it - even some cars.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:58 pm 
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lammanaut wrote:
I'm halfway through the report and it seems the captain of the Sea Smooth is to be blamed, with others sharing minor responsibilities for the collision. Without his turning to the wrong side, against regulations and into the Lamma IV, there would have been no collision, just a close quarters pass-by.


I'm inclined to agree with you regarding the captain of the Sea Smooth, but also concerned he is being made the 'fall guy'.

What on earth would make a captain swing the 'wrong way'!!?? He was a captain with many years experience, and this is Maritime Law, how on earth could he make that mistake that unfortunately costs lives. The staff certainly weren't being lazy on this day, they were too busy, but how could such a mistake be made?

On the day of the tragedy I was working in Central. It was chaos when I arrived in Central around 10am. I remember thinking to myself 'this is an accident waiting to happen' :-( It was chaos when I arrived back on Lamma.) There was 'no timetable' this day,.. it was pick up, drop off, and they were doing trips in 17 minutes from Lamma to HK.

Did the captain get a break? Did anyone get a break? Tiredness and stress...... it all contributes to errors (to be human is to err)...... What were the instructions from HKKF to the staff on this particular day? (Very interested in that one!) Why didn't the Sea Smooth stop to help when the other boat sank? So many questions.

And the chappie who checked off the licenses from the Marine Department... he should have been fired IMHO.

If you are reading through the report .. great!! I look forward to hearing 'what really happened' that day.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:35 pm 
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Tigger wrote:
I'm inclined to agree with you regarding the captain of the Sea Smooth, but also concerned he is being made the 'fall guy'.

It's very likely that he will bear most of the burden. He was in charge and made the wrong decision. Wrong in this sense: "Always turn right". He turned left.

Tigger wrote:
What on earth would make a captain swing the 'wrong way'!!??

The vessel was approaching at an angle. That makes it difficult to decide which way to turn, especially if you didn't fix your eyes on it for a time. In this case, there were only few seconds to act before the collision. The guy also set his radar range too short and then didn't observe the radar frequently. Although visibility was good, the power station lights were blinding the Sea Smooth captain, he said.


Tigger wrote:
Did the captain get a break? Did anyone get a break? Tiredness and stress...... it all contributes to errors (to be human is to err)......

All valid points. But he's no slave. If he felt too tired to fulfill his duties, he should report to his boss and be replaced. That might be a loss of face but you'd expect that from every pilot, bus or truck driver. I'm sure there are regulations in place for that case.


Tigger wrote:
What were the instructions from HKKF to the staff on this particular day? (Very interested in that one!)

Haven't stumbled over anything regarding HKKF instructions. But there were instructions from the Maritime Dept. regarding children on that particular day which were not brought to the Lamma IV captains attention. No system in place to do that. And no training for the new radar equipment that was installed (quote "the many new buttons on the panel")


Tigger wrote:
Why didn't the Sea Smooth stop to help when the other boat sank?

Because it was taking on water itself and several passengers were pushing the crew to go to YSW. There were injured passengers as well, including women and children. The Lamma IV did not appear to be sinking at that time.

Questionable decision but I would have done the same. No point taking people aboard a sinking ship. He couldn't rule out that the Sea Smooth would sink. There is a rule that you keep up speed when you fear sinking in order to stay afloat a bit longer.


Tigger wrote:
And the chappie who checked off the licenses from the Marine Department... he should have been fired IMHO.

Retired years ago. The Lamma IV did not require that water-tight door originally. But they added ballast so now the flooding of two compartments would sink it. Before the modification, it would have stayed afloat after the collision - even without the door. But when they made the boat heavier, they should have installed the door.

It could be a small mistake (for example, using an outdated manual for the inspection) or serious neglect. There's been an "internal investigation" into the officers involved for a whole year with no results so far. The report I'm reading has been censored - all the details regarding the two captains and the inspectors, several dozen pages, have been removed from the document.


Tigger wrote:
If you are reading through the report .. great!! I look forward to hearing 'what really happened' that day.

I don't think there's much more information to come from this document. You'll have to wait until the civil cases and internal investigations have been completed.

My opinion is that Sea Smooth captain is responsible for the collision. He had the bigger vessel, better equipment, unsafe speed, no lookouts, wrong radar range and made the wrong decision. Plus stuff removed from the report.

The large number of casualties is to be contributed to the incomplete modification of Lamma IV, its lousy inspections and lousy training of its crew. The way I see it, HKE is to be blamed for that.

I wonder why collision warning systems are not mandatory on every vessel carrying passengers. It's no rocket science, really. Never bought a radar system but somehow I thought it's part of the equipment anyway.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:24 pm 
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lammanaut wrote:
I wonder why collision warning systems are not mandatory on every vessel carrying passengers. It's no rocket science, really. Never bought a radar system but somehow I thought it's part of the equipment anyway.


The captains could see each other. They knew they were too close. Having an alarm blaring at them would not have helped.

In other situations, like dense fog, it would be helpful.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:02 pm 
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Alan wrote:
The captains could see each other. They knew they were too close. Having an alarm blaring at them would not have helped.
Both captains and crew stated that they were not aware of each other prior to a few seconds before the collision.

I have my doubts about that, too. Could imagine they've played some silly game of 'who blinks first' and it went wrong.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:55 pm 
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SCMP today:

Damning report on the 2012 Lamma ferry disaster exposes possible crime

Probe points finger at 17 Marine Department officials and says there may have been a crime

Friday, 25 April, 2014, by Ada Lee and Johnny Tam


"An internal probe into the 2012 Lamma Ferry disaster has uncovered "suspected criminality'' and delivered a damning indictment of how one of Hong Kong's biggest and most important government departments is run.

The report did, however, identify 17 marine officials up to directorate level guilty of misconduct and mirrors the findings of an earlier commission of inquiry into the tragedy by listing a litany of "systemic problems and deficiencies'' within the Marine Department.

...

The two vessels' skippers are each charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, while their employers, Hongkong Electric and Hongkong and Kowloon Ferry subsidiary Island Ferry Company, were fined HK$4,500 and HK$5,000 respectively for breaching safety rules."


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:16 pm 
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Marine Department chiefs face raps over Lamma IV
Beatrice Siu
HK Standard, Friday, April 25, 2014

The Marine Department's "highest management level," another directorate officer and 11 non-directorate staff should face disciplinary action in the aftermath of the Lamma IV sinking that killed 39 people in October 2012, a government investigation report says.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung declined to reveal if now-retired director of marine Francis Liu Hon-por was one of the two directorate staff involved.

"We worried that revealing all the details will affect the criminal investigation of the police, and affect witnesses in providing evidence. This may lead to the risk of failure," Cheung said, adding that he has a clear conscience.

The Transport and Housing Bureau's investigation team also recommended disciplinary proceedings against seven of them and warnings for six others.

The bureau has provided the full report to the police's criminal investigation, said Cheung said.
He unveiled the investigation report after he briefed family members of the victims yesterday.

"On the basis of prima facie evidence available, the investigation team has concluded that a total of 17 officers - 13 serving and four retired officers - are alleged to have misconducted themselves while discharging their duties in respect to Lamma IV in the past," Cheung said. Those facing formal disciplinary action could receive a reprimand or be dismissed.

Among the 13 officers, the team has recommended that consideration be given to instituting formal disciplinary proceedings against seven of them and summary disciplinary action in the form of warnings against the remaining six, he said.

The 430-page report looked into the responsibilities and roles of individual Marine Department officers in handling the case of the ferry that sank off Lamma, and recommendations on disciplinary action.

But the government publicized only a report summary, concerned that full disclosure could affect criminal proceedings against officers involved.

The team pointed out in the report that there are problems and deficiencies in the prevailing system and practices of the Marine Department.

"The management culture is such that many officers leave it to their subordinates to report when problems arise and assume that all is well when no such reports are received," said a bureau paper to be discussed at the Legislative Council Panel on Economic Development on Monday.

The team is also conducting a separate investigation on non-compliance with life-saving appliances of other Class 1 and 2 vessels.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:44 am 
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Ferry collisions outside of typhoon shelters happen in HK on a weekly basis. Even when people have been killed and boats sunk in the past the MARDEP simply issues a notice reminding Captains and Coxswain's "To maintain a proper lookout, reduce speed, and take early and obvious action to avoid collision"

That it - and they ask for all companies to have their people read the warning.

I hope the Captains, and the MARDEP ppl face criminal charges. It does seem criminal to me.

I wrote a rather wordy article on the subject with several accident reviews and their outcomes if anyone wants to read it.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:52 am 
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Do we have ANY concrete idea now about what exactly happened before, during and after the collision and why? Whose fault could it be, besides not enforcing some MARDEP rules? It's still mostly speculation and far from enough real, official facts, it seems.
How many more years to get the full facts? Hardly a word from the captains, staff and involved companies? Or did I miss it?

This report is almost useless in answering any of the crucial questions most people would want to know. It's all about internal procedure problem in the MARDEP, where's the full, real, official story, more than just all the speculations and opinions??

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:26 pm 
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The Marine Dept failings allowed the Lamma IV to be substandard and so sink like a rock when it was hit. But the real issue is why there was a collision at all. The captains' and crew's culpability probably will be argued out in court later.
In the recent Korean ferry disaster the captain was charged with '"causing death".


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:54 pm 
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Yes, the testimony during the investigation tells you what happened - Two ferries going all out, going to fast for the condition, no one willing to change course till the last minute, no adequate lookout.

There is a culture of speed in HK in general and on the ferries in particular. And the MARDEP, nor the ppl of HK, really give a S*@T. Or they would have done something besides just saying 'dont do that anymore'

Then compounded by MARDEPS failures in allowing Lamma IV to be operating at all.


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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 9:52 am 
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More obfuscation by a corrupt and inept government, aided by complete NON-transparency. Why does the population but up with this? There is little difference in how the ferries are being operated now, more than 18 months after the disaster. That is evidenced by several more collisions resulting in severe injuries to 12's of ppl in the mean time. All of those accidents have resulted in consequences no more severe than the standard warning "to operators to have all skipper and crew read this notice and 1) Slow down to adequate speed 2) maintain a proper lookout and 3) take early and obvious action to avoid collision" And the Government wont even share their complete findings and hold individuals accountable. If nothing changes, then nothing changes. There WILL be another severe accident involving passenger ferries in HK, and it will be for the same reasons as always.

From the Standard - May 16, 2014

"Lawmakers can see ferry disaster report
(05-16 11:31)

The government has agreed to allow lawmakers to read its internal report into the 2012 Lamma island ferry tragedy, which claimed the lives of 39 people.
The lawmakers will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement, and agree to other conditions that will be set out in a letter to be delivered to the Legislative Council today.
A summary of the report released last month said 17 serving and retired marine department officials are accused of misconduct. But no names were mentioned, or what they are alleged to have done.
Democratic Party legislator, James To Kun-sun, who is assisting the victims' relatives, said they were seeking legal advice on whether to accept the government's offer to give lawmakers access to the report, but not the families.
To also said the Justice Secretary, Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, informed the relatives that they could consider taking class action if they wished to pursue a civil case against those responsible for the ferry tragedy.
Meantime, Yuen revealed that the police investigation into whether any marine department official should be held criminally liable for the disaster was "in its final stages".
He said the police were expected to submit a report to the Department of Justice in around three months' time. --RTHK "


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 10:51 am 
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The 60-day trial of the 2 ferry skippers has started this week:

Lamma Island ferry sinking trial hears of 'substandard' navigation

"Skippers were grossly negligent and criminally responsible"


SCMP, Wed, Nov 19, 2014

"The coxswains of both vessels in the 2012 National Day collision off Lamma that caused 39 deaths were guilty of "substandard" navigation that amounted to gross negligence, the High Court heard yesterday.

Lamma IV skipper Chow Chi-wai, 58, and Sea Smooth coxswain Lai Sai-ming, 56, are on trial for unlawfully killing Lamma IV passengers through gross negligence. Each has pleaded not guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter and two counts of endangering the safety of others at sea.

According to the prosecution case, Chow should have seen the navigation lights of the Sea Smooth, which had 62 passengers on board that night. But the Lamma IV only changed its course slightly to starboard roughly a minute before the incident. The prosecution will today call the first of 29 witnesses, who include marine experts, passengers on board the two vessels and police officers."


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